Tony Bingham, CEO of ASTD (the American Society for Training and Development), addressed a group of us yesterday at an informal luncheon. It was a 'town-hall' style meeting to discuss the role of training professionals in the current economy. One of the central themes was very enlightening: many executives and even training professionals are still looking at 'training' as an event-based activity that will magically produce better performance. When this inevitably doesn't happen, the credibility of the training program naturally comes into question.
There are three major problems with this approach, and it is up to us workplace learning and performance professional to engage senior leaders to fix it before these executives are forced to make budget cuts.
Problem #1: Measurement. The goal of training programs is typically some level of increased performance. Unfortunately, training is still widely measured by number of participants, learner satisfaction, and cost. Training should be evaluated by it's ability to help increase performance, improved business results, and return on investment.
Problem #2: Commitment. Many managers are guilty of sending their employees off to training to 'be fixed'. They should be playing an active role in their employees' development, both before and after the training takes place.
Problem #3: Support. A training class can be equated to planting a seed in a garden. Without water, sun, and nutrients, that seed will never produce vegetables. Training is the same way. Learners need support, coaching, and opportunities to practice once they've attended a class to make learning stick.